Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 
Bunker Days

Bunker Days

Witness Seminar

In December 1985 a number of Irish civil servants bedded down in a bleak office-cum-living quarters in Belfast, their job to oversee the implementation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. With protesters howling at the gates, they lived under siege, but gradually established good relations with many of their political and security partners.

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Space to Think

Space to Think

Ten Years of the Dublin Review of Books

We are very pleased to be publishing Space to Think, a handsome book of over 500 pages celebrating some of the finest writing from the first ten years of the Dublin Review of Books. Appearing here in print for the first time are some fifty essays on Irish, European and international literature, history and culture, drawn from the drb archive. Space to Think is published in October. Pre-order now for a special reader's discount.

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Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

Bryce Evans

At one formal dinner Ezra Pound became so bored he ate the floral decoration. At a restaurant meal with Robert Frost, he decided to show his fellow poet ju-jitsu, grabbing his wrist and throwing him over his head. No wonder he was starting to get on Yeats’s nerves.

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Making the Jump

Frank Barry

A ‘hard Brexit’ will undoubtedly create grave difficulties for Irish-owned businesses and ‘tariff-jumping’ foreign direct investment will come to seem an obvious response. Irish firms will establish operations in the UK, as Jacob’s, Guinness and Carroll’s have done in the past.

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Beyond the Failure Narrative

Philip O’Connor

A version of independent Ireland’s economic history which ignores the unfavourable starting point and then goes on to compare our performance with states whose circumstances were clearly different is more in the nature of a myth than a balanced historical account.

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It Looks Like You’re Writing a Novel

Tim Groenland

Home computing and word processing are now so taken for granted that it’s hard to recreate how big a deal their first appearance was. One writer compared the cost of his device to his daughter’s school fees. Another had to have the machine lifted into his house by a crane.

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Ministering to All

Thomas FitzGerald

Families and generations were often divided over the wisdom of making war on the British. One west Cork IRA man recalled his patriotic parents saying “in the name of God, are you mad taking on the British Empire?”. Like the people the priests were also divided, although their difficulties eased somewhat with the arrival of the unambiguously invasive Black and Tans.

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Spring Forward, Fall Back

Padraig McAuliffe

The optimism that attended the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011, and the inflated hopes invested in youth and social networks, have fallen away, replaced by a realisation that autocratic forces, particularly if they can buy military support, still have a future ahead of them.

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Fictions of Otherness

Peter Sirr

Poets are of course free to do what they want. But a translation which requires the disappearance of the original poet, where we can never be sure which bits are invented, starts to feel like the kind of colonial gesture only a dominant language could sanction.

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Striking Out

Afric McGlinchey

A new publication features an invaluable survey of the landscape of Irish experimental poetry, a vibrant tradition, if one that departs from the general set of expectations we tend to have of our poetic traditions.

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Too Long A Sacrifice

Fergus O’Ferrall

French Catholic intellectual influences were very evident in Catholic middle class culture in early twentieth century Ireland and were openly embraced in Joseph Mary Plunkett’s The Irish Review, a journal which promoted ‘a particularly religiose form of nationalism’.

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The Virtual Republic

Gerald Dawe

John Hewitt was uncomfortable with the Northern state and frustrated by his inability to make contact with ‘his own people’. His verse is inflected with a growing consciousness of the damage done by the political exploitation of division and by a nostalgia for a different past.

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The View from the Tower

John Banville

Philosophers had interpreted the world, but the point was surely to change it, Marx asserted. But with socialist change seeming to lead to disappointing or even frightening results, many twentieth century intellectuals turned Marx’s dictum on its head, seeking refuge in theory.

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Glorious Luminary

James Ward

A new study provides impressively wide-ranging commentary on William Blake’s sources, influences, and working methods, as well as his cultural afterlives. Blake was not just an eccentric but a genius and visionary who was repeatedly debilitated by paranoia and depression.

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Suffering and Sanctity

Carol Taaffe

Emma Donoghue’s new novel, set in nineteenth century, post-Famine Ireland and centring on the case of a ‘fasting child’ who refuses all food, is at its most compelling in the attention it devotes to a religious culture that elevates suffering, and yet which provides consolation too.

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Sins of the Advocate

Frank Callanan

The Irish-American lawyer John Quinn defended Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap of the ‘Little Review’ from prosecution for publishing extracts from ‘Ulysses’. The prosecution led to the effective banning of the book in 1921. Quinn’s defence strategy left a lot to be desired.

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Angry Old Man

Brian Davey

Friends of Evelyn Waugh often wondered how he could reconcile his beastly behaviour with his deep faith. Waugh was not exactly apologetic: ‘You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid, I would hardly be a human being.’

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That’s It, Folks

John Fanning

The last book from the late German sociologist Ulrich Beck offers a grim prognosis for our future as a society, with traditional political institutions helpless before the power of capital and the reactions of right and left devoid of intellectual content, functioning only to let off steam.

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Webs of Meaning

Mary P Corcoran

We manage our existence largely by conferring meaning on the world around us. World views play a significant role in motivating humans to engage in purposeful actions and our beliefs and dispositions have a shaping role in the constitution of society, broadly defined.

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There Shall Be Blood

Mary O’Doherty

Mentions of blood across the millennia are cited in a new medical history and the role of the microscope in the study of blood is recounted from the discovery of the lens itself through to early developments in its manufacture.

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Not Biting Their Tongues

Adrian Paterson

An exhibition at Trinity College Dublin shows the wonderful variety and vigour of writing about the visual arts in Ireland in the 1890s and the early years of the last century, a phenomenon which the prestige of more purely literary work tends to make us forget.

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Let’s Shop

Caoilfhionn Ní Bheacháin

An historical study of consumer culture across several centuries provides fascinating insights, but its desire to be value-free and non-judgmental leaves unresolved many important questions about the sometimes appalling human costs of global capitalism.

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Holding Out

Joseph O’Connor

Mary O’Malley’s poems have seen a thing or two, but the light has not gone out. They are honest, tough, tender, beautiful, alive to the redemptive possibilities of Ireland’s languages, tuned into popular speech and ready to walk into the world and find something worth loving.

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Cat Menagerie

Clíona Ní Ríordáin

Afric McGlinchey’s second collection revolves around a central conceit – the fisher cat, familiar of the fifteenth century alchemist Dom Perlet. Drowned by ‘vigilantes’ in the Seine, the animal reappeared with its master some time later when they took up their old pursuits anew.

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Suffer Little Children

Liza Costello

A collection of poems by Connie Roberts, who grew up in an institution after being removed from a violent home in rural Ireland, portrays her horrific childhood world both inspiringly and artistically, while refusing to ‘tell it slant’ or to ‘gussy it up / in Sunday-best similes’.

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After the Catechism

Carmel Heaney

Morality and moral behaviour, based on informed choices, lead to good laws and good policy. There is a concern that, if religious education disappears from schools, society could bankrupt the moral capital accumulated through centuries of Christian faith – unless we have something strong to replace it.

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The Malevolence of Occupation

David Lloyd

Palestine was once the hub of ideas, goods and people circulating through West Asia and North Africa: as a Bethlehem professor reminded us, the ancient caravan route used to pass nearby. Now he cannot even travel the twenty minutes to his former family home in Jerusalem without a special permit.

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A Bird Pipes Up

Billy Mills

There is always some question around the best, or perhaps the least-worst, way of translating poetry. One view is that translating verse into prose leaves out almost everything that makes the original worth reading in the first instance.

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Father of the Artist

Barry Sheils

Mike McCormack’s new novel is a successful and moving work, not least because it contains a public reckoning at its centre – a plea for accountability not typical in Irish writing, which remains overly impressed by its grim array of scapegrace dandies, scouring matriarchs and domesticated Oedipuses.

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Back to the Future

Niall Crowley

Ireland’s experience of nation-building, which in reality was a far from adventurous one, was first driven by Catholicism and cultural nationalism and then by economic development and human capital.

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The Long Note

Brendan Lowe

The opening poem in Paddy Bushe’s new collection gives a sense of an art emerging from a relationship with the natural processes occurring constantly in a particular place, processes which transcend time, while the music played is a different phenomenon from the songs ringing in the New Year down in the village.

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Sad in the Suburbs

Brendan Mac Evilly

Our image of Maeve Brennan is most often of an elegant and sophisticated woman looking very at home in a New York apartment. Her Dublin stories, however, portray frustrated lives in a respectable but constricted world, the middle class suburban world in which she grew up.

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Getting to Grey

Liam Hennessy

Bipolar disorder has been explained as an attempt to create a world in which everything is either black or white. The illness can only be treated, it is suggested, when the important third element is introduced.

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Astonished at Everything

Peter Sirr

Generosity and largeness of vision seem to meet happily in the poems of Uruguayan-French writer Jules Supervielle, which seem to cover great distances in short spaces.

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All or Nothing

Joschka Fischer

Those Germans who argue so vehemently against a so-called transfer union should realise that the EU has always been such a union. France got the CAP for its large rural economy and Germany the common market for its strong industry. Little has changed since.

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Birds, beasts and flowers

Gerald Dawe

DH Lawrence’s poetry offers a record of the powerful current of physical pleasure, the elusive joy of witnessing that which is different, and the kind of opinionated prickliness when things are not what they seem to be or should be.

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The Stilled World

Nicola Gordon Bowe

Unsentimental, sparing and unspecific, the painter Patrick Pye has sought figurative images to represent symbolically “the archetypes of our humanity” depicted in an alternative universe where expiation has been achieved.

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The Revolution Eats Its Children

When you play with men, some of them get eaten, Napoleon said. The French leftist Régis Debray was convinced that some of his revolutionary friends got eaten by the Cuban revolution – for reasons of state.

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John Montague: 1929-2016

The New York-born poet wrote a moving poem of memory of the small place in which he was brought up by relations in a remote part of Co Tyrone.

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A Painful Case

In 1941, German Jewish mother and daughter refugees Margarete and Irene Brann decided to end their lives in London. The mother died but the daughter survived, and was charged with her mother's murder. On this day 75 years ago she was sentenced to hang.

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Ah Go On

Samuel Beckett was famous for his gloominess, but also on many occasions seemed able to express it in a way that makes us laugh. Is there a contradiction here, or not?

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Singing Schubert

There are times when interpreters should realise that explication is not needed. The composer and poet we exist to serve have told us what the message is to be. Our role is simply to deliver it.

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Uphill Battles

Sometimes in politics you lose, and then sometimes ... you lose again. But there is no alternative other than to learn some lessons and come back for more.

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The Bully

They have outlawed bullying in schools in Maine, but unfortunately have not outlawed bullies running for the presidency.

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Aspects of Solidarity

It is relatively easy perhaps to create a sense of coherence and common purpose in a group which sees itself as culturally, socially or politically uniform. But how can we create feelings of solidarity with outsiders?

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Posh Spice

Speaking clearly and enunciating one's vowels may not always gain one admission to a tennis club in which one is not welcome, but the experience of trying to learn how to do so can still be an enjoyable and memorable one.

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The Year Without Summer

The eruption of a volcano on an Indonesian island in April 1815 - the most explosive such event in history - had long-lasting and devastating effects across the globe. It is the subject of a conference in Galway this weekend.

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Kathmandu Letter

Public interest defender ‘LB Thapa’ can no longer practise the law. Subjected to death threats, he now lives anonymously with his family in poor conditions, but this is scarcely unusual, he says, for Nepalese lawyers who won’t lie.

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Under The Weather

So, it's autumn. No need to be depressed. There are apples, blackberries, damsons and bright, golden woodlands to be enjoyed for a few months yet before winter draws in.

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A Personal Vendetta

Thomas Dickson, one of three men murdered in 1916 by the possibly deranged Captain John Bowen-Colthurst, has been accused of editing an anti-Semitic Irish newspaper. The paper, ‘The Eye-Opener’, may have been scurrilous, but it is doubtful if it was anti-Semitic.

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The Fog Persists

A week has passed and we are no wiser about who exactly was behind Turkey’s attempted coup. This is scarcely surprising as we still don’t know who was behind the country’s previous coups either. One thing, however, is certain: President Erdoğan will use it to further entrench his power.

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Ring-a-ring-a-wrangle

Many of the prescriptions and proscriptions of the Catholic church - in the days when it was able to lay down the law - appeared to make some kind of sense, while others were more mysterious. None more so than the disapproval of long engagements.

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If You Liked This ...

The digital revolution has undoubtedly brought us many benefits and made a lot of things easier, but that does not mean that we should welcome what it has delivered in its more recent phases, or what it might have in store for us in the future.

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Lost without eu

One can strike off on one's own of course, off into the North Atlantic if one wants, but what is one leaving behind? And will it eventually appear that there are a few bits missing here and there?

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New Books

Irish Literature

Featuring a full chapter extract from The Abode of Fancy by Sam Coll and a poem from Paula Meehan's new collection, Geomantic.

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World Literature

Featuring 2016 Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty's The Sellout.

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Irish History & Politics

Featuring Hell at the Gates, in which Brian Cowen, the late Brian Lenihan, Eamon Ryan, Micheál Martin, Mary Harney and many others recount in their own words the inside story behind the government's infamous bailout.

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World History & Politics

Featuring Final Solution, David Cesarani's sweeping reappraisal challenging the accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany.

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Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Paul Howard's I Read the News Today, Oh Boy, the extraordinary story of the young Irishman who was immortalized for ever in the opening lines of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'.

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World Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Loose Canon: The Extraordinary Songs of Clive James and Pete Atkin, an exploration of the lyrics and tunes that have won Clive James and his musical partner, Pete Atkin, a fanatical cult following.

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Ireland 1912 - 1922

Featuring Wherever the Firing Line Extends, Ronan McGreevey's study of the places where the Irish made their mark in World War I and are remembered in the monuments, cemeteries and landscapes of France and Flanders.

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More New Books ...